Sequels can be really hard to get right. Knowing how to balance the new with the old can be tricky. Sometimes it just ends up being the same film with a shiny new coat of paint. Not many are able to be as good as the original. But that doesn’t mean that these films can’t be entertaining in their own right. So I have gone through all of those follow-ups that didn’t quite live up to the first, and found a few that deserve a little more love than they got. Here are 10 “bad” sequels that maybe aren’t THAT bad.
10. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Four words: Brendan Fraser; Jet Li. You’d think with those two names in the same film, it would have been a smash hit. But audiences and critics were not too kind to the third entry in the Mummy franchise upon initial release. It’s true, this film does have the weakest script, with some genuinely laughable dialogue (“The Emperor is in trouble!” Ouch). And Rob Cohen’s directing, while solid, is not nearly as good as Stephen Sommers (director of the first two films). But the real hit here is the loss of Rachel Weisz as Evelyn. Maria Bello is good, but she can’t hold a candle to the chemistry Brendan had with Rachel. Even still, Brandan Fraser brings the charm (as does John Hannah as a returning Jonathan), and Jet Li is a seriously threatening villain. It also features some fantastic action set pieces including a chariot race, avalanche, fight with a multi-headed dragon, and a climactic battle between an army of mummies and an army of terra cotta warriors. All of this backed by a fantastic musical score by Randy Edelman (with some added music by John Debney). Bottom line, it’s the weakest of the three, but still a fun time.
09. Aliens vs. Predator: Reqium
This movie got a super bad rap when it first came out for having cardboard characters, and being so dark you could barely see what was going on. Well the good news is that the blu-ray copy of the film is bright enough for you to see all the Alien and Predator action the way it was meant to be seen. And while the characters may be fairly one-note, they also do feel pretty natural. I grew up around people who acted exactly like some of these characters (which probably isn’t a compliment). Anyway, now that you can actually SEE the action, you can fully appreciate all the bloody violence that an R rated Alien vs. Predator film can bring. THAT is where this film’s strengths lie: it gives us the violent clash between a badass Predator and a group of Aliens that we missed in the first AVP. Extra blood and guts. Add to that the Pred-Alien hybrid, and you have yourself a recipe for an very entertaining, and stunningly gory, B-movie.
08. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
For the longest time, Tokyo Drift was the “red-headed step child” of the Fast & Furious franchise. Its place in the timeline was questionable until Fast & Furious 6, and the characters never connected back to the main story until F9: The Fast Saga. It featured some forgettable performances, rough dialogue, and weak storylines. So why is it on this list? Because of the one thing it did have: RACES. Genuine, nerve rattling, edge of your seat races through the neon streets and multi-level parking lots of bustling Tokyo. Seriously, the drifting in this film is incredible and worth the watch alone. Oh, and this entry also introduced us to Han. Han is great too.
07. Dumb & Dumber To
Is this one of those sequels where they rehashed the plot of the first with a fresh coat of paint? Yes. Did it make me laugh my ass off? Absolutely. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels still got it. The gag about them “taking a long trip” to visit their parents had me in stitches, and when it was revealed who their parents were, it killed me. Is it dumb? I mean, it’s in the title. But dammit, it still makes me laugh every time Jim Carrey says “That’s insane!” Grab a beer and some pizza and enjoy this stupid comedy on a Friday night.
06. Kick-Ass 2
I was never quite sure what everyone disliked about this sequel. It has an abysmal rotten tomatoes score and did bad enough in theaters to make sure the planned Kick-Ass 3 never happened. But why? The satire is strong, it has a gorgeous color palate, fantastic performances, and the action is just as insane as the first (maybe even more-so). The fight between Hit-Girl and Mother Russia alone is worth the price of admission. Christopher Mintz-Plasse isn’t exactly the most threatening villain, but that was kind of the point. He’s a spoiled child who desperately wants to be as bad as his father was… but has to resort to paying off genuine badasses to fight for him. Oh, and did I mention this film has Jim Carrey as the gun toting, expletive spewing Colonel Stars and Stripes?! And he’s fantastic!! Way to bury the lead.
05. X-Men: The Last Stand
Time been kind to X-Men: The Last Stand. Especially after the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix (which promised to do the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline justice, and yet somehow ended up being even worse). Brett Ratner’s directing does feel a little hollow in his attempt to copy Brian Singer’s tone from the first two films, but he handles his ensemble cast well enough. Every character has their own personal viewpoint about the cure storyline, which is something that is very hard to do with such a large cast. The only real bummer is that the film isn’t longer and therefore able to expand on those characters’ views. The action is solid, and it features some fantastic performances. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart stand above the rest by delivering incredibly emotional turns as Logan and Charles respectively.
04. Predator 2
Well, technically the Predator franchise already has an entry with AVP:R, but this is a sequel proper. Predator 2 holds up very well after all this time. It features a fantastic cast, some excellent make-up, gooey effects, and a killer score by returning composer Alan Silvestri. While not quite as good as the first film, Danny Glover, Bill Paxton (RIP), and a batshit Gary Busey help this film stand above most other “it’s happening again” sequels. And Stephen Hopkins (Lost in Space; A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child) directs the piece with a strong sense of pulpy style. Give it a rewatch, I’m sure you’ll find Predator 2 is better than you remember.
“Remember, the door swings both ways.”
03. Ghostbusters II
Is this another sequel that recycles the exact same structure and plot points from the first, but with a new villain? Yes. Is it funny? Also, yes. Ghostbusters II holds up much better than I expected. Is it as good at the original? Hell no. But it still does have some pretty great comedic chops. Vigo is a cool villain, the Scoleri Brothers feature in a memorable sequence, and the scene in the subway tunnel still gives me nightmares after all these years. The whole cast is in top form, delivering the zingers with a fast and frenetic pace. Venkman’s introduction on “World of the Psychic” is hilarious. And new addition Peter MacNicol steals every scene he is in as Dr. Janosz Poha. His comedic timing and repartee with Bill Murray was a high point of this film.
“Johnny, where in the hell are you from?”
“The upper west side.”
02. Alien 3
Well, we had Predator and we had Alien vs. Predator; it’s only fair that I include one of the proper Alien sequels. Alien 3 was hampered from the very start. Looking into the making of the film reveals an insane and overly complicated and troubled production history. In fact, with all the chaos happening behind the scenes, it’s a miracle that the final product turned out as good as it did. But when revisiting director David Fincher’s feature film debut (you read that right), it’s important to watch the extended director’s cut. This version of the film reinstates crucial scenes that help the story connect better, reveal what happened to missing characters, and add extra pathos to the saga of Ellen Ripley. It really helps the film and its themes feel complete. Sigourney Weaver is perfect as Ripley as always, but the two new stand-outs are Charles S. Dutton (Roc) as Dillon and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) as Clemens. They are very layer and complex characters that shine though these two performances. As it stands, Alien 3 is a flawed, but still worthy entry into the Alien franchise.
01. The Godfather: Part III (AKA The Godfather: Coda - The Death of Michael Corleone)
When you follow two masterpieces of cinema with a “good” movie, it’s going to be a disappointment. But still, on its own, The Godfather: Part III is a good film. Maybe even a great one. A sad and somber tale about an old man who desperately wants to go legit, only for his family’s business to drag him back into the darkness. The theatrical cut did not live up to the expectations set by its previous two films. But the re-cut version recently released, entitled The Godfather: Coda - The Death of Michael Corleone, is a definite improvement. While the story hasn’t changed, this new cut adds extra scenes, removes others, and even changes the order of pre-existing scenes to address plot and pacing issues. While not an entirely different animal, it goes a long way in helping Coppola’s original vision be seen. Still the weakest of the three (you can’t beat the cinematic perfection that is The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II), The Godfather: Part III, AKA The Godfather: Coda - The Death of Michael Corleone, is still a very good film worthy of your time.